During a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the High-Level Segment of the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 27 February 2017, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. and Swiss Federal Councilor and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen and enhance bilateral relations between the Philippines and Switzerland in light of the 60th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic relations this year.
Philippine-Switzerland Bilateral Meeting in Geneva
Secretary Yasay thanked Switzerland for its support for the peace process in the Philippines. He added that one of the key reasons for President Duterte’s desire to transition into a federal form of government is to address the Muslim issue of self-governance. He invited Foreign Minister Burkhalter to share Switzerland’s experience in federalism who, in turn, expressed readiness to support the Philippines.
Foreign Minister Burkhalter said that Switzerland is looking forward to the immediate ratification of the Philippines-EFTA Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He congratulated the Philippines on its chairmanship of ASEAN and said that Switzerland is willing to cooperate with ASEAN on human security and vocational-technical education and training.
On the issue of President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, Secretary Yasay explained that the government’s war on drugs is part of the key initiative towards achieving economic development. He stressed that the Philippines remains committed to upholding the rule of law in its fight against drugs.
Foreign Minister Burkhalter inquired if it would be helpful to share experiences on drug policies with the Philippines and expressed his country’s readiness to support the latter. He stressed that his offer is not to moralize but simply to engage in a dialogue and exchange of views on drug policies.
Secretary Yasay and Foreign Minister Burkhalter
The bilateral meeting served as an occasion to reaffirm the two countries’ willingness to deepen partnership, especially in light of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic relations this year. END